By Fatma Esma Arslan
PARIS (AA) – The pilot of EgyptAir flight MS804, which went down in the Mediterranean Sea last Thursday with 66 people aboard, requested an emergency landing from Egyptian air-traffic controllers moments before it crashed, France’s air accident investigation agency (BEA) announced Monday.
A BEA official told France’s M6 television channel that pilot Mohamed Said Shoukair had complained of smoke in the cockpit before asking to make an emergency landing.
On Saturday, BEA spokesman Sebastien Barthe had said that data transmissions from the plane had revealed the presence of smoke in the flight cabin.
The smoke, the cause of which remains unknown, may have been indicative of fire, Barthe added.
On Thursday, EgyptAir flight MS804 -- flying from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board -- disappeared shortly after entering Egyptian airspace.
On Friday morning, Egyptian state television announced that the army had found the wreckage of the plane in the eastern Mediterranean.
Later the same day, Egyptian state daily Al-Ahram reported that the plane’s black box had been "tentatively" detected in an area between three and four nautical miles from the site of the crash.
According to the airline, 30 Egyptians and 15 French - along with two Iraqis, one Briton, one Belgian, one Portuguese, one Algerian, one Chadian, one Canadian, one Sudanese, one Kuwaiti and one Saudi national -- had been aboard the ill-fated aircraft.
Both the French and Egyptian authorities have since launched investigations to determine the cause of the crash, which remains unknown until now.